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Greek Carnival traditions

Corfu ● Galaxidi ● Ioannina ● Karpathos ● Kozani ● Methoni Messinia ● Naousa ● Skyros ● Thessaloniki ● Xanthi ● Zakynthos ● 16 March 2017
 

A traditional offshoot of the ancient Dionysian festivals, Carnival in Greece has customs, whose roots go back in the antiquity.

Carnival is not only a festival before Easter, but it also marks the coming of spring and the blossoming of new life. Many places in Greece have their own ways to celebrate the Carnival. In Xanthi Thrace, on the last Sunday of the Carnival, before Clean Monday, the locals gather to watch the burning of an effigy, and it is believed that thus, they banish the evil spirits.

On the island of Corfu, on the same day, after a parade, which reminds of the Venetian Carnival, another effigy, the King of the Carnival is burnt, while in Zakynthos, an Ionian island which is also influenced by the Venetian Carnival, the locals re-enact customs of the 16th century, such as a traditional Venetian wedding with impressive costumes.

Greek carnival

In Thessaloniki, men are decked out in black and red costumes with colourful headgear and heavy bells, and they spill out noisily in the streets, while in Skyros, in the island complex of Sporades, the islanders are dressed up as old men with black capes, masks, shepherd's sandals and goat bells, just like the troupe of God Dionysus in ancient Greece.


In Kozani and Ioannina, the neighbourhoods are illuminated by large flames, in a custom that has to do with the ancient belief of the purifying power of fire. In Methoni Messinia, in southern Peloponnese, on Clean Monday, takes place a satirical marriage between two men in costumes, known as Koutroulis' Wedding, which is followed by dancing until the dawn.

In Karpathos, in the south-eastern Aegean, also on Clean Monday, the locals stage the Peoples' Court of Immoral Acts, as a way to clean and prepare the state for Lent. In Galaxidi, near Delphi, at the start of Lent, there is a battle with flour, a custom that has its roots in Byzantine Times.


In Naousa Imathias, in Central Macedonia (Greece), Carnival is known as Boules, after the word bouloukia (=bunches), which is used to describe the group of people dancing around the streets of the city.


Where to Stay

Hotel in Heraklion, Greece Park Hotel
Park Hotel
19, Evrou Str., 71303 Heraklion, Greece

Park Hotel is located in Heraklion, close to Ammoudara Beach and only a 10-minute drive from the city centre. Heraklion Port is 4.8 km away and Heraklion International Airport is 7.7 km away.

Hotel in Athens, Greece Elikon Hotel
7.9 10
Elikon Hotel
3, Dorou str., 10431 Athens, Greece

Located in the centre of Athens, Elikon Hotel is just a 2-minute walk from Omonoia Metro station, making transport easy throughout Athens. Piraeus Port is only 20 minutes away using the metro.

Hotel in Thessaloniki, Greece Nouvelle Hotel
Nouvelle Hotel
7km Thessaloniki - Oraiokastro, 57013 Thessaloniki, Greece

Nouvelle Hotel is located in Oraiokastro, just 8 km away from the centre of Thessaloniki. Thessaloniki International Airport is 28.9 km away. The port of Thessaloniki is approximately a 20-minute drive away.


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